Just before the release of their very excellent third album, Up On the Sun, the Meat Puppets waltzed into Austin in 1985. I knew their classic second album, which was loud and strange, but it couldn't have prepared me for the twangy, lysergic dust devils the band would be kicking out that night at the Continental Club.
The Meat Puppets were staying with a friend of a friend, so I wangled time with them before the show for an interview for my college newspaper. This was my first ever rock band interview, and it was a disaster. Singer-guitarist Curt Kirkwood was sharp-tongued and impatient. After ten minutes of chat, he asked me, "When are you going to ask us a real question?"
This charming manner served him well a few hours later when the band took the stage. The club was full of punks, Nazi skinheads and assorted other tough guys who had come to hear 120 MPH hardcore. The band began a set of sprawling, Grateful Dead-influenced desert punk.
After one or two songs, somebody in the back yelled, "Play something fast!!"
Curt Kirkwood, who was not wearing his glasses and so would not have seen a flying beer bottle had one been launched at him, stepped to the microphone and made baby noises.
"Wah-wah!" he bawled. " 'Play something fast!' "
He paused to stare down the crowd, then added, "Suck my dick."
None of the tough guys in the crowd said anything after that. (PB)
The Meat Puppets were Curt Kirkwood, Cris Kirkwood and Derrick Bostrom.
"Lake of Fire was a cartoon song about the idea of the whole fuckin' Catholic nature of evil."
"[The Meat Puppets self-titled first album is] possibly the most inventive demonstration of interplay between guitar, bass and drums ever recorded. The secret of the Meat Puppets is that they are near-virtuosos, three of the most inspired musicians living under the (Arizona) sun. Curt Kirkwood is transparently the incarnation of some violent, subliminal force of ecstacy, while brother Chris (bass) and drummer Derrick Bostrom are, even hurtling along at Bad-break-neck-Brains tempo, as calm and uncluttered as the greatest jazz propeller…Somewhere between Rudimentary Peni and George Jones lie the Meat Puppets. They will probably never leave Phoenix.”
Barney Hoskyns, NME, 1981
“We’ve never lost our taste for playing weird shit.”
The Meat Puppets strike me as an original force, all dressed up and wondering where they want to go. It's good to leave the audience with questions about your music, but it's not so good when the main question is simply, 'Why don't those guys get it together?'
Robert Hilburn, L.A. Times, 1984
"[Meat Puppets II] is a kind of cultural trash compactor."
Kurt Loder, Rolling Stone, 1984
In 1985, The Meat Puppets played on a bill with Big Black in Boston. When the Meat Puppets got stiffed by the promoter, Steve Albini sprang into action. “He talked me into going in and getting money out of them by pretending I had a gun,” recalls the Meat Puppets’ Curt Kirkwood. As instructed, Kirkwood ambled into the office with his hand thrust into his black trench coat and demanded more money. Unfazed, the club manager directed Kirkwood to sit on a bench outside the office and emerged a few minutes later with another hundred dollars.
Michael Azerrad, Our Band Could be Your Life, 2001
"A lot of it is what Disney said: there's a natural hoochie-koochie to a goldfish."
Meat Puppets II